It occurred to me, as I thought about the post I put up last week as a response to Tullian Tchividjian’s Jesus + Nothing = Everything that a reader might come away with a negative impression of the book. That is not a great outcome for a book response, and it highlights the potential issues with the sorts of off-the-cuff remarks I offered there. (That, in fact, is part of the reason it is filed under its own category, “Book Responses,” instead of the main “Book Review” category.) So: an addendum, which comprises a clarification and nearly a correction to the previous post.
That quick response highlighted the potential problems I saw with the books – but that belies just how good the book really is. Tchividjian, as I noted, is absolutely right to ground all our effort and our sanctification in the gospel itself. Our teaching pastor was covering the end of Titus 3 today, and as I was looking at the broader context, I was amazed again at how Paul’s argument flows in and out of the gospel. Paul opens the chapter with an exhortation to good works, then explains that exhortation in terms of the gospel, then instructs Titus to insist on the truths of the gospel so that people will be faithful to do good works.
(There is more to say here about the centrality of “good works” in the Christian life, and I would go even further than our pastor did today: whereas he said good works are a normal part of the Christian life, I would say they are normative. If your life doesn’t include good works – and this remains true year after year – then there’s good reason to doubt your Christianity. But that, as I often say, is a post for another day.)
In this case, I simply wish to highlight that Jesus + Nothing = Everything is, in fact, a really good book. It’s one I think you should buy and read; it would be good for your soul. You should keep in mind the little niggling disagreement I raised with Tchividjian’s language, but you should read it and you should savor the beautiful truths of our salvation with him. It is true that the more we really understand the gospel, the more we are empowered to do good works; and therefore we must be diving ever deeper into the riches of God’s glorious grace, made clear to us in all the pages of Scripture. My hesitation, if you can call it that, is more with Tchividjian’s choice of words (and these things are important) than with the call for a deeper saturation with the gospel and a more gospel-founded life of good works.